The First Electric Trees

In 1903, the famous General Electric Company was the very first to offer a prewired lighting outfit to the American public. My research shows that the outfit contained festoons (strings of light sockets) manufactured by the American Eveready Company, and lamps manufactured by the Edison Decorative and Miniature Lamp Department of General Electric. Although quite capable of doing so, I strongly suspect that GE did not make their own strings in the beginning as Eveready was trying to patent a string of sockets themselves, and rather than challenge the patent, GE chose simply to buy the strings from that company. The set had a 50 foot cord with an attachment device that allowed the user to simply screw the set into a nearby lamp or ceiling light. GE offered the set with eight, sixteen, 24 or 32 sockets, with each festoon of eight attached to the outfit by means of a junction box.

Shortly after GE offered this outfit, the courts ruled against The American Eveready Company’s patent filings, stating that their string of prewired sockets was based on knowledge that “any ordinary wireman would possess” and therefore not patentable. GE soon began offering this outfit with green porcelain sockets and a junction box of their own manufacture.

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